Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to make an endorsement in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race today while campaigning in Ashland with his new running mate, then walked it back before getting on his bus and moving on to his next stop.
During a rally at Randolph-Macon College, Romney was acknowledging the Republican leaders who had preceded him and running mate Paul Ryan on stage inside Crenshaw Gymnasium. The former Massachusetts governor singled out Lt. Gov. Bolling, the state chairman of Romney’s campaign and a long-time supporter.
“A great friend and, I hope, the next governor of this great state of Virginia,” Romney said of Bolling.
It would seem natural for Romney to support Bolling, given the lieutenant governor’s association with the presidential campaign. But Bolling is waging an already-contentious battle for the GOP gubernatorial nomination with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was not at the Ashland rally Saturday. And Romney needs a united party behind him as he challenges President Barack Obama in a critical battleground state.
Romney’s remark about Bolling spread quickly on Twitter and some alert campaign staffer must have made the candidate aware of it. When Romney stepped outside to speak to an overflow crowd, he said this: “And we’re counting on you to make sure that when Bob McDonnell retires, I know this one term thing is an unusual thing in Virginia. We want to make sure to have a Republican take his place. There are a couple of guys in the race, I love them both. I want to see one of those guys take his place.”
Romney’s campaign later sent word that the candidate has not made an endorsement in the Virginia’s GOP nomination fight, which will be settled at a state convention next June.
– Michael Sluss